Fish in the Water

Fish in the Water

Rodolfo trimmed his black mustache with the small scissors he kept on top of the medicine cabinet where the kids couldn't grab them. His usual ritual before a big speech. Black hair rained on the crud Magdalena had let accumulate on the green sink. Rodolfo let them rain.

An image flashed through his mind, fleeting: the beach at night, shark teeth shining in the moonlight, burrowing in the sand. the long black sharks vibrated in electric breeze secret currents. He reached for the radio that hung on the peeling frame of the bathroom window. He turned up the sound.

"The Island Liberation Army occupied the approach to the town of Los Naguales on teh border with Ventura, according to the ILAs City Branch. Los Naguales' copper mines have been hotly contested by Official Forces and the ILA."

He brought his round face closer to the mirror and went on cutting.

"President Buffen denied rumors that additional official troops have been deployed to the border."

Rodolfo pictured a Rebel in fatigues crouched in ochre mud.

'Real revolutionaries,' he thought in the Rebel's voice. He felt the Boy's open-mouthed longing. He sucked the burning smoke of the cigarette he had propped on the edge of the sink dropping ashes into the bowl. In the Seducer's voice he thought of Iris's firm thighs, her tight skin, her sharp sweat. 'How to get he to shower before fucking?' The Seducer didn't like remembering Iris was off limits for the moment. 'The Leadership Commission had no authority over his personal life. How could Marieta throw socialist morals in his face at their last meeting. She'd pointed at him wit her red nailed index finger. 'Cut out the philandering. It is unseemly for a leader of your stature. You have to model the New Man.'

The leader's voice interrupted. 'The implication is that Iris resigned as a reporter for REDENCION because of the love affair.' Marieta's audacity! 'REDENCION needs a reporter more than the comrade needs a mistress.' He turned down the news of fires and hold-ups. He stretched his upper lip over the tiny, cigarette yellowed teeth, tilted his head back, clipped the last hair. He studied the line of h is mustache. 'Fine', thought the Seducer. Rodolfo combed his black curls with his pick. He placed the cigarette between his thick lips, sucked hard, and smiled at himself in the mirror as he threw the butt into the toilet.

The Leader thought, 'In tonight's speech hammer away at the victories, the most important thing is to challenge defeatism, and then agitate on holding the closing of the Congress of the City Branch in the Island's Liberated zone. What a victory that will be! 'Whatever you do, don't dwell on the bombing of the Branch office. Don't give the Venturan exile scums the satisfaction. Winning the battle for the mind was as important as winning the battle over Naguales.'

He opened the bathroom door onto Magdalena's screams. "Don 't turn on the TV until you're done eating." In Father voice he thought, 'She scolds the children too much.' The Husband thought, 'She's not well.' The Rebel scolded, 'It's your fault. You're machismo is responsible.' He stood in the doorway, his fists clenched, his gaze on the bookshelf made of planks held up by bricks, sagging with the weight of offset pamphlets, dog-eared books by Marx, Engels and Lenin, stacks of yellowed REDENCION, the black headlines of the issue on top blaring:


He studied Magdalena's silhouette framed by the doorway from the hall into the living room, and again by the doorway from the living room to the kitchen. He took a sharp breath and lit a cigarette. 'Her thighs are bursting her blue jeans,' thought the Seducer, 'She's not the slender Barrio Princess you stole.' His mind flashed an image of shark teeth, torn skin. He smoothed the pleats of the white linen guayabera Magdalena stayed up late to iron it last night.

From beyond the kitchen doorway she fixed on him the unseeing gaze of her slanted eyes. He approached her. The kids screamed from the living room. He stepped aside to let her run to their screams and reached for the place of rice and beans on the kitchen counter. He tossed his cigarette into the sink filled with pots and dishes, tore off a piece of the bread from the long thin loaf propped on a basket filled with yellow onions and green peppers.

Plate in hand he dove into the uproar in the living room. Roddy and Matty jumped up from where they lay on the floor fighting over the TV and grabbed his legs. Screaming, Papi, Papi, Papi Roddy reached him first.
"Sit down and let your Father eat." Magdalena knelt beside the TV with her hand on the switch. "Don't turn it off." Roddy clutched his Father's leg harder.

Rodolfo ate standing, staring at the screen. Beach, giant wave, slender surfer holding a can of soda. "that's what the Island's good for." Magdalena glanced at the screen. "They sell a lot of soda." He looked straight at this wife and tried to catch her gaze. "Remember the time you nearly drowned?" She fixed her blank eyes on his. "Remember Mama. on the Island. After we got caught in that big rainstorm. We were sleeping on the beach and we ran into that fish food restaurant. It was closed so we slept on the tables wrapped in dirty tablecloths."

He sat at the table and pushed aside the latest REDENCION to make room for his plate. ILA DENOUNCES BOMBING OF CITY BRANCH OFFICE. 'Ten days after the bombing the photo still makes you shake with terror.' The Rebel was always scolding. 'The last photograph Iris took for REDENCION before she resigned had been one of her best,' thought the Leader. 'And what a fucking bad time for this bomb. In the speech tonight make sure people come out agitated to go to the Congress and not shitting in their pants.'

Magdalena sat down on the arm of the sofa. "I remember the rainstorm." Their gazes held for an instant. The same memory filled them of love with laughter, in the rain, like fish in the water. 'We were so new then,' thought Rodolfo at once Rebel, Leader and Seducer. Had he forgotten how to hope? Magdalena rose to pry Roddy's hand from the TV controls. "It's Maddy's turn to pick the show." He frowned as his sister changed from this cops and robbers show to a cartoon about a dog. She steered Roddy to the sofa, sat him down and kissed his nose.

"The morning after the rainstorm you went into the water. It was a mirror. No waves." Rodolfo set down his fork. "We were Islanders from the City. We didn't know about undertows. I was watching you from the shore. You were screaming and a fisher man walking by on the shore was calling out to you to swim in a diagonal. I thought you were fooling around, until the fisherman walked into the water to pull you in." He saw the children had stopped watching TV to hear the story. Magdalena smiled. "You hypnotize them like you hypnotize the audiences at your speeches."

'She used to say your voice had charisma,' thought the Seducer. 'She called it my fresh ground coffee voice.' The Rebel again passed judgment. 'That was when you were still lovers and Magdalena cared even more about dreams of revolution than you did.'

She reached over and broke off a piece of his bread. "I can't remember nearly drowning on our honeymoon." He finished chewing a mouthful of rice and beans. "That was our honeymoon?" She nodded. "That's the only time we've gone to the Island together." Rode tossed a sneaker at Matty and flew over the table, over Rodolfo's food. The children screamed. Magdalena rose and grabbed for the collar of Roddy's t-shirt. She knelt to spank him.

Rodolfo rose. "How could you forget you nearly drowned?" He looked at his face in the mirror of the china cabinet, reflected among the clutter of dishes. He arranged his curls. He walked out the front door throwing kisses.
"The same way you forgot our honeymoon." Magdalena spoke to his back as it disappeared into the darkness of the hallway. "Don't you have time for your coffee?" But Rodolfo had vanished at a run down the stairs. She stood by his plate and finished the rice, the beans, the bread.

Across from the Venice Rodolfo stopped to study the row of identical eight story buildings all named after cities in Italy. "Magdalena's damn nagging to move to the Venice and for what?, "thought the Leader. 'Better for the kids. The same junkies everywhere. At least before we lived right by the Branch office.' The Seducer interrupted. "The way things are going it's to your advantage. Will Iris turn up tonight? Has she come to any functions since she resigned?' He nodded a greeting to Lalo, a middle aged Islander who caressed his car with one chamois wrapped hand, held a beer can with the other. 'A true revolutionary moves among the masses like a fish in the water was one of Marieta's favorite precepts from Mao. Did he really even like the masses? What could be less interesting than making love to your car on the street?" The Leader despaired.

He walked quickly past Papo, Victor and Chino. 'Damn tecatos.' Thought the Rebel. 'When would the time come to send junkies and drug dealers to the firing squad like they did in Ventura after the Revolution?' As usual they listened to their boom box and waited to make sales. No matter how hard Magdalena tried to run away from them they turned up, colonizing like the Empire, like roaches.' He ignored their calls of "Hola, mi Pana." Victor called after him, "Not selling newspapers today?"

He rushed to the corner where the calm of the street gave way to the agitation of stores and fruit stands of the avenue. 'You'll kill them if they ever come near your kids,' the Rebel decreed. 'Lumpen'. thought the Rebel. 'Marxism had named them well. When he left the street to become a Pentecostal preacher he'd hated having to forgive them. This was how Marxism had surpassed Christianity. There was no need to turn the other cheek. Che had said a revolutionary loves. I say a revolutionary hates.'

He ran down the subway stairs. His heels echoed in the piss stinking tunnel. He ran for the train, sank into the cold steel seat. He traveled against the evening home going traffic in an empty car.

He closed his eyes on the graffiti of Papo and Flaco. Someone had scrawled VIVA A FREE SOCIALIST ISLAND over COMMUNISTS OUT OF VENTURA. One small victory in the ideological war. He breathed deeply and went over his speech the way Reverendo Isaac had taught him to do with his sermons.
The columns that framed the porch of his Grandfather's house on the Island: summary of recent victories on the Border. The stairs of cracked Moorish tiles: the first Congress of the City Branch ever to be held in the Free Zone. The dark hallway hung with family portraits: summary of the current military situation. Abuela's room: summary of the political situation. The goatyard: links between the struggle on the Island and the fight for democratic rights in the City, housing, schooling; don't forget arson at the Naples.

The Boy dreams himself in a crowd of men dressed in fatigues and camouflage. The crowd is dense. He hears a percussion of clocks, congas, heartbeats, shots and hell shrieks. The boy seeks the good man with Rodolfo's face. He opens a door. Runs after him. He looks for the face. Runs after him. He looks for the face in mirrors. He woke up at his stop and ran out before the train doors closed.

He'd timed his arrival well. He could see across the street from the train exit the crowd already gathered outside the public school Marieta had rented for the rally. By the newsstand Rodolfo sighted her, with Celso and Domingo, huddled on the steps of the school in their continuous informal meeting of the Leadership Commission. 'This is the best of the cheap meeting places.' The Leader had to admit there was no way of ever getting rid of that pain in the ass Marieta in the face of such efficiency. 'With my speeches and her administrative gift the organization will go far.' He studied the headlines of the commercial press. Without looking he saw the row of vaginas like hairy flowers on the covers of magazines. 'Ay Iris.' The Seducer was silenced by the Rebel. 'Just get over that sexual addiction.'


He approached the crowd studying the face. 'Knowing the individual is not the same as knowing the group.' had been one of Reverendo Isaac's maxims. 'The group is a different animal, a prehistoric one,' thought the Seducer. He remembered how Reverendo Isaac moved his congregations to tears and howling and drew from them those senseless syllables, that speaking in tongues he claimed was the Holy Spirit but Rodolfo later discovered it was simply power. 'It's your job to move that power,' thought the Leader.

He dove into the human labyrinth that now spilled into the street. 'It is possible to move all these people to act in concert.' the Leader went on. 'What if you fail? What if you don't measure up to the task?' The Rebel was afraid. A young man with a long, share face, one of the security guys who would attach himself to Rodolfo like a leech, lit his cigarette. He smiled and shook hands. The Rebel went on with his judgments. 'Some speakers like Secretary General Echegaray don't need tricks. Even Reverendo Isaac. But you are a cracked bell.'

The Boy's images of black cassocks dragging mud and reeking sweat flooded Rodolfo. Nigh; fire; sweet smoke; sweet cloying flesh. The Boy dreamed himself but was he cannibal or missionary? Three young women militants Rodolfo didn't yet know sold REDENCION on the edge of the crowd not far from where Celso, Marieta and Domingo stood talking. 'The land of the blind where you are the one-eyed man,' thought the Rebel. 'No one is a prophe in his own land,' thought the Leader.
"Working hard?" He addressed the prettiest of the three REDENCION sellers. He spoke with the fresh ground coffee voice of the Seducer. "It's not the speeches that make revolutions," he said. ('And you are only good for speeches,' the Rebel scolded.') "Selling REDENCION does, daily, painstaking work does." The dark one parted her slender lips and smiled to show small white teeth and the pink tip of her tongue. "Companero, isn't it dangerous to hold the closing of our Congress in the Free Zone?" He saw Marieta signaling to him from the stairs. 'Here comes another scolding.' The Seducer smiled at the girl. "When there is war, there is always danger," he said as he walked away to join the others from the Leadership Commission.

"Magdalena home with the k ids?" Celso said and patted him on the back. Marieta nodded. "We've got child care here. She could have come." She brought her head close to his and talked into his ear as they walked up the steps. "The mobilization lists for the Congress don't look good." He saw the dark shadows under her big eyes. She was probably up all night supervising the printing of the program and the banner painting for this rally. "The mobilization tonight is weak. It's obvious the local committees haven't been meeting their quotas of home visits. We've underestimated the impact of the bombing of our offices. I'm calling an extraordinary session of the Commission after the rally. Don't make faces. There's no choice."

She read from the tiny notebook where she listed her tasks and everyone else's. "In the speech tonight you have to bring up the dues. If tonight's fund pitch is no good we're not going to cover the office rent, let alone the repairs from the bombing." He nodded. Security had opened the doors and they joined the line of people entering the school hallway, slowed at the door by the meticulous search of purses, knapsacks and briefcases.

Stuck at the door the crowd milled. Rodolfo greeted militants and sympathizers as if he blessed them, mimicking Reverendo Isaac. After most seats of the auditorium were filled the Leadership Commission walked inside followed by its security team. They marched together down the aisle of the dusty school auditorium nodding at the crowd and smiling. For Violeta of the Island Solidarity Organization he had along gaze to the eyes. She was sunk into the wooden chair and her knees were pressed onto the seat in front of her. Her yellow eyes returned his signal. 'Beneath that designer denim dress she is completely naked,' thought the Seducer. He walked on. Marieta was watching.

The leaders climbed onto the illuminated stage lined with luminous banner of red and green satin.

The men sat at the green and red satin covered table. Marieta poured glasses of water. Through his cigarette smoke Rodolfo saw a sparse audience, at least a third of the auditorium empty. Militants on security duty wearing read and green armbands were lined up along the walls of the room. Only Iris and her camera were missing. The murmur of voices rose and fell like breath.

Marieta stood behind the podium covered in red and green, coughed, and sipped water. She laughed softly and the crowd laughed with her. 'It's amazing how she reaches them, 'The Rebel thought. 'Fish in the water. Feet on the ground.'

"Hot in here, isn't it?" She laughed and they laughed with her. "A small sacrifice for the struggle. Others sacrifice more." Her voice dropped and resounded, her face glowed: Marieta possessed by her mission. "The successful culmination of our Congress campaign is no more and no less than building our revolution as the Island Liberation Army makes our revolution, as we make our revolution day by day wherever we are, we are the heroic Island people who have survived and triumphed in the face of centuries of colonialism..."

As she spoke the Leader traversed the porch columns of his Grandfather's house, the stairs with the cracked Moorish tiles, the hallway with the dark portraits, the rooms, the goatyard...

She enumerated the least the greatest colonial abuses. Rodolfo saw the faces of the audience reflecting the luminous expression of Marieta's firm, serious face. He allowed himself to be raised by anger; anger against the empire; redeeming anger. After all, Reverend Isaac's devil had turned out to be a bunch of rich people with an army. Anger and his mission redeemed him of the discordant multitude of his voices, of his indifference of his adultery.

They were still chanting INDEPENDENCE NOW when Rodolfo reached the podium. He adjusted the microphone and saw through the glare of the lights the glowing faces of the audience. He had not finished saying, "Compares," when the bomb went off. The sound of the bomb reached him after the screams that came from every corner of the room. he heard wood creak, metal crash and smelled a sharp, acrid scent.

"I Shiite on the mothers of the Cadetes del Retorno and all Venturan exiles, doing the Empire's work for them." He heard his voice blare over the speakers, the sound system still intact. He felt himself taken by the hand; found himself in a car. Violet's familiar bony hand offered him a lit cigarette. 'Survival above socialist morals.' The Rebel approved. Celso himself had shoved him into Violet's green Volkswagen.

"Leave Rodolfo," Iris said. She took a deep drink from the beer can she had resting on the stoop of the Venice. She put he arm around Magdalena who sat beside her with her eyes fixed on Roddy and Matty. Iris released Magdalena and focused her camera on the children's race upstreet.

"Women's liberation won't keep me company when it's three in the morning and I'm all alone in bed," Magdalena said. She sipped beer from the glass she'd brought downstairs.
"You're alone at night anyway." Iris set the camera on her lap.
Roddy screamed. He'd fallen forward on his face. Magdalena ran to pick him up and hold him until he was done crying. Iris followed, focused, shot the squatting Mother, the crying boy.
Back on the stoop of the Venice they drank and smoked in silence in the muggy early summer night.
"Soon it'll be time to fight the kids to bed." Magdalena looked up. "I'm sick of the sky that n ever turns dark." Iris took her hand. "In the Island the night sky is black." Magdalena turned to face her friend. "I keep dreaming of sharks. I dream they chase me. I go into a sea without waves and suddenly night falls and the sharks in the black waters rub against me, cold and rough. I dream I know if I swim in a diagonal I will be saved, but I can't"

Iris opened another beer can. Magdalena drained he glass. Roddy appeared with his pants torn at the knee, his knee, bleeding, screeching.
Magdalena pulled at her long black curls. "Give me a break," she said.
Iris picked up Roddy. "Sana, sana, culito de rana," she sing-songed. "Now your Titi Iris will take you to bed." She sat Roddy on her hip, took Matty by the hand and walked the children upstairs.

Alone on the stoop Magdalena felt a chill, hunger. She drank. she smoked cigarettes one after another. At last Iris' military heels clicked liberation.

"They're both asleep. They were wiped out from all the running."
Magdalena rested her head on Iris' shoulder. "Last night I dreamed the sharks chased me as far as the shore." Iris stroked he hair. "You won't believe this but the sharks started giving me those licking kisses dogs give."
"While I was singing, 'duermete mi nino' I got a revelation." Iris took Magdalena's hands. Her slanting eyes everyone said resembled Magdalena's, shone; she fought laughter. "I thought, let's go to the Island right now. If we hurry we can catch the rooster flight." Magdalena jumped up. "You can't be serious." She strode indoors. "You are serious. But where would se stay? What money?"
"How many times haven't you spent the rent money on one of Rodolfo's organizing trips? Let's do it. You're eaten up by rage. One of these days the kids are going to pay."
"Where have you seen a woman who wasn't bursting with rage?"
they walked arm in arm up the hallway labyrinth, laughing.

"To hell with the cigarette buts in the sink." Magdalena threw two pots on top of the dishes and pots already spilling onto the counter. She pushed past the forever open ironing board in the hallway by the bathroom door. "To hell with the white guayaberas." She the bathroom door. "To hell with the mustache trimmings in the sink." She grabbed an armful of clean laundry hanging on the wooden drier above the bathtub. Iris climbed on a chair to reach on the high closet shelf for the suitcase Rodolfo used on his political trips. Magdalena tossed the clean laundry into the suitcase.

"I see convenience prevails over socialist morality." Violet sank deep into the carved foam rubber chair covered in a velvety corduroy the color of blood. Her knees were folded and her dusty bare feet were planted on the chair. 'Not even the children would do that at your house.' The Leader made Rodolfo squirm and sip cognac faster than he wanted to. From where he sat in an identical chair facing Violet he could see her thin soft thighs and the darkness of the curly hairs in her center so unlike the lighter curls on her head. He had been sitting in the enveloping chair for an hour engulfed by a light summer blanket Violet had wrapped around him. 'As if you were in shock,' thought the Rebel. He sipped cognac and let her light another cigarette for him. Flutes and violins from the disc of nueva cancion music from the Island she was playing for him put him in mind of rainstorms.

And now she rose, played a disc of boleros by Maya, the island suicide with the hoarse voice, and sunk beside Rodolfo into the foam chair. He kissed her hard, quickly. Fish without air. He made galloping, deep thrusting, biting love to her.

They'd made love man times but he had never before seen her porous skin of a nearly blue whiteness. the blue skin glowed against the red brown of her hair. Nor had he ever noticed the unexpected roundness of her shoulders, the clarity of her yellow eyes, the softness of her lips and that her song was sweet, as if it were emanating nectar not spit. He closed his eyes and saw waves sparkle, then the mirror sea, then the adolescent thighs of Magdalena rising in and out of the flat water guided by the fisherman who kept her from drowning. May's hoarse, breaking, smoky voice engulfed him.

The Boy dreams black night. Thick adobe walls. Smells wet ground. Salamanders scurry between his toes. He dreams himself a Taino youth. His manhood is being tested. With the others he climbs the cemetery wall. Together, they must bury the war dead. This work is only for virgins. The touch of a youth who's not a virgin will make the dead warriors bleed into the mud.

The elders watching don't say so, but it is known because the dream has a past and a memory, that this work will make men of the virgins.

After the burial, at dawn ( the dream has a future) the elders will take the new men to the won.

They will be warriors.

The Boy dreams he is impure, no virgin. He slides down the wall to the wet ground. He hears the rapid drumming of his terror. To touch the bodies and make them bleed is to reveal to all that he is already not a child. Not to touch the bodies, to run, means he will never be a man. No longer a child. Never a man.

As usual, Violet dropped him off in her green bug a few blocks from the Venice. He walked slowly up his block naked of humans, populated only by garbage cans spewing beer bottles, paper diapers, cellophane.

He climbed the Venice stairs. An image filled him: Magdalena's taffy skin as she loved him inside wet clothes on the restaurant table after the big rain. 'It rained and rained and we were fish.' the rebel felt the image cleansing him. He saw the glistening shark teeth, felt the coarse shark skin. He felt a hot pain on his chest and on his thigh. Only now as he approached Magdalena did he begin to feel the blows from the bombing. Moaning, holding onto the greasy hallway wall, he dragged himself the last steps to his door.

"Ay Mama, ay Mama." He struggled with the key and at last pushed open the door. "Ay Mama, they got me this time. This time they really got me." He dove into the chloacal small of diapers, cooked beans, coffee grounds. He reached his bedroom door and leaned into the frame.

Empty bed. Empty crib. Empty cot.

He lit a cigarette and filled his lungs.

"This can't surprise you." He welcomed the Rebel's judgment. He found he note stuck to the refrigerator door by a magnet shaped like a dolphin.
I can't take it. I've gone to the Island with iris. I've taken the rent money. I'll write. Forgive me.
'She's signed with the same M in a circle she puts on notes telling me where she's left my dinner.' If he could the Rebel would smack him against the wall. Rodolfo pounded his head with his fists. With one swipe of his arm he crashed the clutter on the counter to the floor. He took a deep swallow of rum from the bottle Magdalena kept for him on the refrigerator, sucked the last of the cigarette, tossed the butt into the sink, dragged himself back to the bedroom, and threw himself on the bed.

He dropped his head into the pillow that smelled of jasmine and sharp sweat, like Magdalena and sank into a dead man's sleep.

The Boy dreams himself a rodent amid the rotting beams and dusty gray plaster that he gnaws at, that over him in the dust they shed as he gnaws. He dreams himself all alone. When they leave it always hurts; it hurts each time; and they are always leaving. He dreams himself in the pine oil scent of his grandmother's kitchen where the vapors of pine oil, coffee, scorched milk and beans have woven into the fibers of the sooty curtains that swing, swing, swing on the breeze of lead and petroleum and the distant vibrations of cars and trains.

He dreams himself seated at the table of wood brown formica writing in the black marble notebook.

The TV is on loud: cowboys and Indians shooting.

A light bulb hangs over the table from the ceiling and casts a yellow-red ring.

Out of the corner of his eye the Boy looks at the Christ on the wall. is the red heart pulsing, beating, spitting blood?

he turns the TV louder and the sounds of the mice race, of their gnawing, are gone. The walls expand and shrink with the breath of their creatures.

Bang, bang, shots, blows, kicks, take that, take that. He likes this. Take more.

In the notebook he adds the numbers in the row that slants. The big numbers get smaller toward the edges of the page; he erases and erases. The page is torn.

They Boy climbs on the chair, reaches for the box on top of the refrigerator, bites at the donuts covered in sugar crystals one after another. He gnaws at the sugar crystals stuck to the cardboard box.

He returns to the table and fixes his gaze on the screen. He dives inside it. Into the glowing green, the luminous gases, the wings of fern, the fog, the shrieking of the apes. His hands are roots.

The telephone woke him. The morning sunlight filtered thorough the slit between the shade and the window frame.

"She's dead." Celso's piercing voice, sharper than usual, made Rodolfo sit upright on the bed. He saw Magdalena floating face down on the mirror sea. 'You killed her." The Rebel would kill Rodolfo if he could. 'The Devil doesn't play games. Reverendo Isaac's voice promised compassion, but not yet. 'The Devil's price is high.'

Celso was sobbing. "Marieta's wounds weren't serious enough to kill her." He couldn't go on.
"Marieta?" Rodolfo's voice couldn't disguise his relief.
"They let her bleed to death in the emergency room. They killed her twice. We can't let them get away with this. You've got to get over here." Celso slammed the phone.

Rodolfo didn't waste time with a shower. He changed into the last clean shirt on the ironing board; brushed his teeth; smoothed his pants.

He grabbed the papers at the corner newsstand.

He read as he walked. He raced into the train. As he read on, the Leader ordered the agenda of the Leadership Commission meeting. With a tremor of excitement the Leader formulated his proposal. 'We will dedicate the Congress to Marieta, now that she's a martyr.'